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Greater flexibility for Senior Counsel

17 June 2020

The State Government will move to reinstate the title of Queen's Counsel, in a move aimed at offering greater flexibility to senior members of the legal sector. 

The title of Senior Counsel is awarded to those members of the South Australian legal profession who have demonstrated outstanding ability as Counsel as well as leadership within the profession. 

The title came into use in South Australia in 2008, after the then State Government ceased the appointment of QCs, in line with other state and territory jurisdictions that had discontinued its use. 

But Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said that some jurisdictions have moved to reinstate the QC title, including Queensland and Victoria, and the move has strong support from the legal profession in South Australia.

"I understand there is some confusion and misunderstanding in the broader community about the use of the term Senior Counsel, which is less well-known and regarded than the QC title which is universally recognised. This is one of the reasons why the sector has called for this reform," Attorney-General Chapman said. 

"The sector is also concerned that the title of Senior Counsel, or SC, is not as well known in the Asia-Pacific region, which makes it harder for those lawyers competing for international briefs.

"In addition to this, the SC title is easily confused with the title of 'Special Counsel', which applies to a number of in-house counsel within some businesses."

Attorney-General Chapman said that, under a Bill to be introduced to Parliament this week, the Supreme Court will still appoint legal practitioners as Senior Counsel.

"However, anyone who has been - or will be appointed as an SC - will be able to apply to the Attorney-General to make a recommendation to the Governor that they be appointed as a QC," Ms Chapman said.

"This will give those lawyers who have been distinguished enough to earn this title the flexibility to choose the title they feel is most appropriate to their work."